My sister Mary sat on one end of the davenport reading a thick book. I sat at the other end, twiddling my thumbs. We hadn’t had a new comic book in the house for over a week and I was sick of rereading our collection of old ones. The heat and humidity of the day had zapped all my energy.
Taking a break from household chores, Mom walked into the living room and sat down in her upholstered rocking chair. Picking up a crochet pattern book from the table next to her chair, she fanned her sweat-glistened face and requested, “Kathy, open the windows wider.”
I went to the first window. As I leaned over to slide the aluminum frame up a blast of backyard heat, smelling like cooked lawn, hit me in the face. I gasped, “I don’t think having the windows open wider is going to cool us off. It’s hotter outside than in the house!”
Mom sighed, “I hope it cools off tonight so we can sleep.” She shrugged and picked up her crochet hook, pulled string from a spool on the floor and checked directions in the book. Then she began to make the small, hooked needle in her hand dart rapidly in and out of loops. Before long, a lacy doily began to take shape.
I grumped, “It takes several cool nights before the upstairs bedrooms stop feeling like an oven. I wish we could all sleep on the back lawn.”
Mom made a, ‘Humm!” sound in response, but kept crocheting. Sleeping outside was out of the question. I was afraid that I’d be carried off by wild animals.
Looking around for something to do, my gaze fell on the shoe box where we kept our family pictures. It was on the bookshelf next to Daddy’s chair. He liked to look at them. Fetching the box, I returned to my spot on the davenport and began to shuffle through the pictures.
One of our family’s most treasured possessions was Mom’s Eastman-Kodak Brownie, a cardboard box camera. She took many pictures of us lined up by birth order. The fact that I wasn’t on the earlier line-ups, being that I was the youngest child, was made up by the increased number of pictures she took after I was born. Although I loved pictures of little me, I felt especially drawn to the pictures of my siblings when they were little.
That afternoon I discovered pictures of the older children in my family holding white bunnies. A few pictures showed them on the lawn playing with them. One picture had Daddy laying on the lawn with them. I asked, “Mom, I didn’t know the older kids had rabbits for pets! Why don’t we have them anymore?”
Mom put her needlework down and laughed, “We made the mistake of getting a boy bunny and a girl bunny, so before long we had lots of baby bunnies. The kids enjoyed playing with them, but as their pen became more and more crowded, some of the rabbits dug under the fence to escape”
I leaned forward and questioned, “Then what happened?”
Putting down her book, my sister Mary interjected, “White rabbits were everywhere. Casper was older and he offered to hunt them, but no one wanted to eat the rabbits because they had been pets.”
Fanning herself, Mom chuckled, “Back then, when I woke up at night and looked out of a window, I could always count on seeing several white rabbits dancing in the moonlight on the back lawn.”
Now, many years later, I’m having a wild rabbit population explosion in my yard, and everything they do irritates me. The shimmering, romance of sweet little bunnies ended for me when I discovered they chewed down all five of my new blueberry bushes.
I complained to my daughter, “Why can’t the rabbits do something useful, like chew the lawn short, so I don’t have to hire people to mow?”
My daughter absently explained, “They need a diet with variety. Eating only grass would be bad for them.”
I huffed, “I need variety in my diet, too, but with the rabbits around, I probably won’t be having peas, beans or carrots this summer. The greedy little beasts will chew everything down before the plants can produce.”
When I was ten years old, Mom’s story about the escaped white bunnies dancing in the moonlight sounded so charming and sweet. Only now, do I realize it could not have been charming and sweet for Mom. She had a big family and depended on her garden for meals. All their dancing in the moonlight and making more babies probably made the white bunnies extremely hungry.